Panzanella - a recipe to celebrate stale bread

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan recipe, which perfectly blends fresh ingredients with stale bread for an easy vegetarian salad. 

It is a great example of a healthy, sustainable and quick recipe. If you make it in summer, you can enjoy the seasonal flavours of the salad vegetables.

It's also a wonderful way to use up stale bread that we might normally waste - here in the UK, we throw away 32% of the bread we buy.

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Salvatore’s Panzanella

Panazella in bowl
  • 250g stale sourdough/ wholemeal bread, ripped into 2–3cm pieces
  • 60ml good red wine vinegar
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 500g cherry or good-quality ripe tomatoes - how to grow your own tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bunch of fresh basil - how to grow your own basil
  • 1 celery heart, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 50g stoned olives
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Lots of good olive oil

1. Put the bread into a wide, shallow serving dish. Put the vinegar, oil and garlic into a bowl and mix together, then drizzle over the bread, mixing it in well with your hands.

2. Halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and add to the bread.

3. Set aside a few leaves of basil for the garnish and scatter the rest over the bread, along with the celery, onion and olives. Sprinkle with a little oregano and drizzle with lots of good olive oil.

4. Cover the dish and set to one side in a cool place until ready to serve.

For a more substantial lunch, experiment with extra ingredients - capers, roasted peppers, cheese or beans all work well.  

This version of the Tuscan original, called Salvatore's Panzanella, is featured in a new cookery book by Jane Baxter and Henry Dimbleby.

Leon: Fast Vegetarian taps into the growing interest for sustainable food and cooking with less - or no - meat, and with vegetables as the main attraction. But instead of trying to disguise them - slathering them with sauces, shaping them into burgers and shrouding them in pastry - Baxter and Dimbleby encourage us to let vegetables take the spotlight undisguised. 

If you think veggies deserve their time in the spotlight, join the growing movement to Eat Better and we'll keep you topped up with ideas, tips and recipes for sustainable food.